Saturday, September 22, 2012

Papaw Borrowed a Pony

This looks like a fairly ordinary picture of a man with a couple of kids on a pony. The man is my father. We'll call him Papaw for the rest of this story because that's what his grandchildren called him. The kids are his two oldest grandchildren, Cindy and Slade. There was a third grandchild at this time but Blake isn't in the picture. You'll find out why later.

In the summer of 1983, my parents talked my brother and sister-in-law into letting my then seven-year-old niece spend a month with them. Cindy and her parents lived in Florida so a trip to Kentucky for a month was a big deal. I know the grandparents were a little afraid that she'd get here and immediately want to go home. Papaw thought the key to keeping her from being homesick was to get her anything she wanted. So, when they were arranging the visit, he asked her what she wanted.

Cindy's answer? A pony. [Uh oh.]

Papaw might have flinched for a minute but he started looking for a pony. He called someone he knew had one and offered to buy it. The owner said he wasn't really interested in selling the pony. Papaw said he wasn't really interested in buying it either since he only needed it for a month. In the end, the man agreed to loan him the pony for the duration of Cindy's visit.

I'm not sure if Papaw had considered the logistics of having a pony for a month - you know, little things like where to put it. He didn't have a barn or a shed or even a fenced in yard. Just in case you ever need to know, it's possible to keep a pony tied to a big rope in the backyard.

See the rope?

Mamaw was a little afraid of the whole riding a pony thing. She was really concerned that it would go too fast or just decide to run off with one of her grandchildren on-board. Solution? Papaw sat in a lawn chair holding one end of the rope while Cindy and Slade took turns riding the pony in a circle around him. Day after day after day. For a month. I'm very sorry there isn't a picture of that. Actually, I'm very sorry there isn't a video of that.

I don't remember the pony's real name but Cindy called her Sugarfoot. Slade and Blake called her Penelope.

Wondering where the pictures are of Blake and the pony? I managed to find one where he's mostly on the pony with a little help from his mother. You see, Blake was only two and a half years old and he was just a little afraid of Sugarfoot/Penelope but he didn't want to admit it. When anyone asked if he wanted to ride her, his answer was "It stinks, I'll ride it after Papaw gives it a bath." But he enjoyed taking a swim in the pony's water tub. Apparently, that didn't stink.

This post was written for the 2012 Share a Memory contest sponsored by DearMYRTLE and Not Your Mother's Genealogy.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Grandparent Memories on National Grandparents Day

I was lucky enough to have one set of grandparents who were everything you think of when you consider the perfect grandparents. That isn't to say that my other grandparents wouldn't have been like that under different circumstances. They just didn't have the opportunity.

Verda and Will McCauley, abt. 1940
My father was the ninth of eleven children so his parents were much older than my mother's parents. I never knew Daddy's mother. She died when he was not quite 16 years old. His father died when I was seven. I remember Papa but not very well. You can make the trip from our house to his in under four hours today but back then it was a much longer drive so we only saw him a couple of times a year. I remember him visiting us once but the memories are faint. Sadly, I remember his funeral much better than I remember him.

Elmer and Emma Hopkins, 1976
If one set of grandparents can make up for not really having the other set, Mamaw and Papaw certainly did that. Papaw retired when I was eight years old. Almost every Monday after that, they made the 100-mile drive from Loyall, Kentucky to our house in Mt. Vernon.

In the summer, my brother, sister and I couldn't wait for them to arrive. During the school year, we knew that when we stepped off the school bus on Monday afternoon, they would be there. They'd spend the night and return home the next day. By the time my youngest sister was born six years later, this was the established weekly routine. We visited them often but not nearly as much as Mamaw thought we should. She really wanted us to come every weekend (even though they were coming back to our house on Monday).

They were always there for every event in our lives. I can remember one time that we sorta wished they weren't around. Disney World opened when my youngest sister was five years old and my parents thought we should go. The older three of us really had no interest in it so they agreed to let us stay home. At 20, 18 and 17 years old, we were happy to be on our own for a few days with our parents three states away. I doubt that they had gotten much past the Kentucky-Tennessee line heading to Florida when Mamaw and Papaw pulled into the driveway. My grandmother thought it was a terrible idea to just go off and leave us. Whatever plans we had for the week went down the drain but we ate well while our parents were gone.

They were the best.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

FGS 2012 - Saturday and Sunday

Friday, September 7, 2012

FGS 2012 - Friday

Thursday, September 6, 2012

FGS 2012 - Thursday

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

FGS 2012 - Wednesday

Here it is a week after the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Birmingham, Alabama began and I'm just now writing about it. Blogging very much from a conference is next to impossible for me. There is just too much happening to find the time to write. I intended to catch up as soon as I got home Sunday night but was distracted by a little broken ankle problem.

Hopefully, "better late than never" is still true.